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Thoughts on Veterans Day

There's a lot to like about a town like Corte Madera, but one thing I've noticed recently is the emphasis our community puts on thanking and respecting our veterans.

At our Lion's Club meeting this past Thursday—three days before Veterans Day—I was struck by the fact that our chapter president, Fred Casissa, closed the meeting by recognizing all the veterans in attendance. One by one, Fred went around the room, asking each veteran present to stand up, introduce themselves, and tell the other members briefly about their service. The members clapped warmly after each veteran spoke.

The following night, at the annual Corte Madera Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, the same recognition was performed, this time with a much larger audience and many more veterans. The veterans came from different branches of the military, held different ranks, and performed different tasks, but each received a lengthy ovation from the town.

I was also struck by the heartiness of that ovation; there was no sense of empty ritual or unenthused conformity. As I looked around the room, I saw every member of our community in attendance that night clapping wholeheartedly, some grinning with pride, and some with looks of sober respect.

The respect for our veterans in Corte Madera is genuine. The value that Corte Madera places on service to the nation is real. For someone who comes from a generation that seems to not quite understand what military service means, this was moving.

Don't get me wrong: many members of my generation serve in the armed forces today, and they serve with bravery and honor But many more of my generation seem greatly removed from veterans, the military, and warfare—dangerously so, in my opinion.

This Veterans Day, I reflected on that observation. I suspect there are many reasons for this generational shift: the wars of our time lack the moral clarity and public support of conflicts like World War II; our nation has become so wealthy and powerful that we are able to wage nearly constant war without feeling the effects here at home, so the public doesn't perceive the cost (and therefore the gravity) of war; fewer of our parents served in the military than was true of prior generations, so we have fewer veterans to live with and learn from; and we've never known a draft, making it easy to dismiss military service as a "choice."

Going forward, I hope to help shrink this gap by urging other members of my generation to consider more carefully what it means to serve one's country, and what our veterans sacrifice to do so.

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